Ah, the tangled webs we weave. The online experience certainly is a curious one. And there are times when it becomes curiouser and curiouser, in ways that resemble Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The cast of characters exist right there on the magical screen.
There are the Wizards who (as in Oz) pretend to be one thing when they are another. There are Mock Turtles and White Rabbits, Queens, Tweedledeedees and Tweedledeedums.
There are real people and there are pretend people. And then there are the Trolls, of course.
My first experience in any online community was only several years ago. I thought then that a “troll” was something from a children’s story – a fairy tale. I looked up the word in an online dictionary after hearing it and not quite “getting” it.
I’ve seen and met several trolls online. Some are known in the communities they lunge into once in a while, some are of a more secretive or hidden variety.
My first blog was hit by a troll. His comments did not show to readers. I deleted them. They were ugly comments of a “carnal” nature, to phrase it gently. And there was no way to find out who it was. This is just how the web is, people told me.
Most women who blog have had experiences like this. Funny (and not in a ha ha way) how one doesn’t even have to walk down the street in a short skirt or do anything at all except exist in a public space to get this sort of attention from someone – someone who walks right up and into your space to foul it with their own inner ugliness.
My second blog was also hit by several trolls. Then there was the time someone started following my posts on a forum while making odd comments, using an old screen name of mine while doing so.
Disconcerting, to say the least.
Embarrassed and anxious to be out of the eyes of all those who were reading, I invited him to discuss what he wanted to on my blog – he claimed to be related to me by blood – though not in any legal way. Tempting to believe in one way – for someone like me without a large family. Very tempting.
On the other hand, this person also claimed his mother’s name was Caroline Kennedy. And he also directed me to telephone him at the “Rockefeller” offices and left a phone number to do so. He also said he does not know how he decided to use my old screen name as his own screen name – that it “just happened”. I love serendipity but wooooo hoooo some of these facts are more serendipitous than I can swallow.
I did not call him, of course.
The week before my online bank account had been hacked into. It appeared that act may have been accomplished by the simple act of my answering an e-mail from someone I did not know.
What would you think if this happened to you? Would you believe this person was your unknown “family”? Even if they used facts which sounded personal but that could have been found by some good research on the web?
Beyond that: Why on earth would someone bother to take the time to “fool around” like this? Do these people have nothing better to do?
Pitiful. I still don’t “get it”.
Some of the characters writing on foodvox are not “real”. This happened because I’m a writer who likes to be creative and imaginative. It has always been clear to anyone who bothers to read the slightest bit about the blog that these characters are me, writing in a way that is satiric or somewhat of a parody. It says exactly that, in the “About” post at the top of the blog.
That the “About” post is the one most clicked on by readers would hint that this is something people are interested in and curious about. And some curious things have happened, too!
Under my own name, a google search will only reveal a few of the many things I’ve written on the web over the past four years. Yet a google search of foodvox (which is a blog started relatively recently) offers four or five pages of links, filled with the writings of not only foodvox but also with the characters of Barry Fig, Moira Tuscanaro, etc.
How odd! That these characters appear to be more real, more “there” in the virtual world, than I do!
This is part of the nature of the beast that is the internet, I guess.
I’ve wondered since these occurrences (of meeting trolls and having satiric characters appear real): Are some of the people who post on forums in talk posts as real as they appear to be?
I wonder if when a blog or site is started with the intent of making $$, if the need to be “sticky” – to be interesting, to maintain reader interest, to keep things moving (particularly on sites where a substantial investment has been laid out for start-up, with a profit goal set to re-pay investors) – might give rise to the idea among those in charge that when things get slow, posts by faux-yet-interesting posters could be created for the purpose of livening up things.
Nobody would know, would they. Not the readers, anyway.
My own resolution is that there is only one thing I can imagine doing to answer these vague yet troublesome thoughts and realities: Take a pinch of salt and apply it to web. Each and every time you enter it.
It may not dissolve the imaginary creatures who pretend to be real . . . and it may not prevent trolls from trying to enter your space to make their mess in it.
But simply having the salt at hand can be quite useful.
As a matter of fact, forget the pinch. Bring a pound. And it doesn’t matter the least bit whether it’s pink, gray, Kosher or iodized. It’s not all about the snob factor in this case – it’s about the chemical reaction.
Apply liberally to web as required. It won’t untangle it all . . . but it may make things clearer. Which – as they say – is priceless.